South Korea's Institute of Machinery and Materials said it had developed a new particulate filter that helps reduce diesel soot emissions by up to 95%.

The state-funded institute said it has won government certification of the particulate filter after it completed a 60,000km (about 38,000 miles) vehicle road test.

The system uses a plasma burner and is said to be effective in burning nitrogen oxide, a key source of fine dust emissions. It could be fitted commercially to vehicles from next year, according to local reports.

The institute said the particulate filter is smaller in size than previous units it has developed making it appropriate for passenger cars.

The South Korean government sees fine dust as a key threat to public health and is increasing controls on the main sources of this air pollution, including the use of old diesel cars. It also plans to decommission old coal-powered electric power plants.